How Annie Leibovitz captured Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal

In Portraits 2005–2016, Annie Leibovitz accentuates Jenner's statuesque beauty and inner strength
Caitlyn Jenner, Malibu, California 2015. Picture credit: © Annie Leibovitz
Caitlyn Jenner, Malibu, California 2015. Picture credit: © Annie Leibovitz

In the spring of 2015 the US athlete and TV personality Bruce Jenner completed the medical procedures that allowed him to become a woman; Jenner undertook the process in relative secrecy, which was difficult, given his public profile.

Jenner had found fame as a gold-medal winning Olympic athlete, following his triumph in the decathlon at the 1976 Montreal games. Latterly, he had become a different sort of star in Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the hugely successful reality TV show focussing on the lives of Jenner’s wife, Kristen Mary Jenner, his children, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and his step-children, Kourtney, Khloé and Kim Kardashian.

Given the kind of coverage reality TV stars and transgender people often receive, Jenner may have anticipated some fairly rough treatment after he became a she. However, she had two things on her side: the first was a marked softening in attitudes towards sex reassignment among the American public; the second was Annie Leibovitz.


Annie Leibovitz, 2012. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz, 2012. Photograph © Annie Leibovitz

Jenner came out publicly via a Leibovitz cover shoot for the July 2015 edition of Vanity Fair. The accompanying article described the pain and tribulations Jenner experienced when changing from Bruce to Caitlyn, while Leibovitz’s photographs showed Jenner’s statuesque beauty, undulled by the surgeon’s blade or the tabloid flashguns. In Annie’s pictures Caitlyn asserted both her loveliness and a wider right for anyone to make such choices.


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